Amount of Child Support
The amount of Child Support that is presumed to be the correct amount to be paid in Virginia is based on a guideline amount that is actually printed in the Code of Virginia in Section 20-108.2.
There are also online calculators such as the one at SupportSolver.com.
You should note that the amount of Child Support is not necessarily a 'per child' amount, but is the amount that the Commonwealth of Virginia has determined is the appropriate amount to be used to support the number of children in the case. This becomes especially important when one of the children reaches the age of 18 and you 'think' the support amount for the remaining children should be reduced.
The Child Support amount is calculated based on the gross monthly income of both of the parents. If you look at the chart in the code, you will notice that the amounts for Child Support rise as the gross monthly income of the parents increases. This is because the Commonwealth of Virginia feels that the children should share in the standard of living of the parents.
Thus, a couple that makes $10,000 a month will have a Child Support obligation higher than a couple who makes $5,000 a month.
There are a few special rules about other things that can be included in the calculation of child support, such as costs for day care, health insurance and the support required for other children of the parent.
Agreement to use a different Child Support Amount
The parents can agree to have a different amount of Child Support paid, but this can only be done with the agreement of both parents and the parents must agree that the amount of Child Support paid will be sufficient to provide for the children. You cannot agree to a lower amount of Child Support and then have the custodial parent apply for government support.
Even if the parents agree to a diffferent Child Support amount, the courts require that a 'guideline worksheet' be submitted to the court so that the judge can review the guideline amount using the figures in the Virginia Code.
Changing the amount of Child Support
Any order from a court that determines Child Support will remain in effect until the Court changes the ordered amount.
Sometimes the parents make an oral agreement to change the amount of support, but you should be aware that only the order of the Court will determine your legal obligation.
There are cases where the parents may have come to an agreement at one point, but then they have a fight about something and the next thing the paying parents knows, he or she is taken back to court for non-payment of the original Court-ordered amount.
A change to the Court ordered Child Support amount will need to be based on a 'material change in circumstances' which is argured before the judge.
Remember the part above where one of the children reached the age of 18 and the parents 'thought' that the Child Support amount would be automatically reduced. Not so. The fact that the one child reached the age of 18 would be considered a 'material change in circumstances' and you should go back to court to have the total amount of support modified.
Generally, any issue regarding Child Support in Virginia is handled in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District (JDR) Court.
If the Child Support amount is determined as a part of a Divorce process, the support amount is often initially determined by the Circuit Court of the jurisdiction.
Most of the time, the Divorce decree will transfer control of the Child Support issues to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District (JDR) Court in the same jurisdiction. If not, the Divorce case must be reopened and the Child Support issue then transferred to the JDR Court.
Enforcing Child Support Obligations
If the paying parent does not pay his or her Child Support as ordered by the court, the receiving parent can take the non-paying parent to court using a 'Show Cause' motion (which is shorthand for a 'motion to show cause why the person should not be held in contempt for failure to abide by an order of the court').
If the Child Support is ordered to be paid through the Division of Child Support Enforcement.(DCSE) and the support amount is not paid, DCSE can bring a Show Cause motion itself against the non-paying parent.
Also, it should be noted that even though Child Support is generally only ordered until the child reaches the age of majority (age 18, or when the child reaches the age of 19 if still in high school), the obligation for any unpaid Child Support goes on until the total amount (plus interest and fees) is paid in full.
I have seen cases where a non-paying parent was taken back to court to pay unpaid Child Support after the child was 40 years old!
This is just a small sampling of the information you may need to know about Child Support in Virginia. Please contact us or check out our blog if you have questions that have not been answered here.
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